Instant replay: The 10 most improbable finishes in college football historyPosted: December 6, 2013
Auburn’s Chris Davis, en route to history, silences Alabama dreams of a three-peat.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes an improbable play that stirs the soul. Witness what happened on November 30, when Auburn shocked top-ranked Alabama with a length-of-the-field return on the last play of the game. 50 years from now, fans will remember where they were when the play occurred.
It was the greatest finish in college football history. Take a look at the top 10 with video links.
2013, Auburn 34, Alabama 28
Alabama, gunning for its third straight national championship, attempted to snap a tie with a 57-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game. The kick was short, but Auburn return man Chris David took the ball at the back of the end zone and ran 109 yards (officially 100) for the winning touchdown. Auburn had tied the game with 32 seconds remaining, following a 99-yard touchdown pass that gave Alabama the lead earlier in the fourth quarter. Ironically, in their previous game two weeks earlier, the War Eagles stunned Georgia on a last-minute 73-yard pass, known as The Immaculate Deflection.
1982, Cal 25, Stanford 20
Cal, trailing 20-19 with just four seconds remaining against arch-rival Stanford, used five laterals on a kick return to score the winning touchdown, racing the final yards through the Stanford band, which had come onto the field believing the game was over. John Elway, playing in his final regular season college game, led Stanford to a field goal before Cal’s hysteria on the ensuing kickoff.
With the clock winding down, Doug Flutie winds up to throw his Hail Mary pass.
1984, Boston College 47, Miami 45
On the day after Thanksgiving, Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie threw a desperation, 48-yard touchdown pass to his roommate, Gerard Phelan, on the final play of the game to lead the Eagles past Miami at the Orange Bowl. Flutie would go on to win the Heisman Trophy that season.
2007, Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42, OT
One of the wildest games in NCAA history, capped by one of the wildest endings. Playing in the Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma scored 25 straight points but Boise State tied the game on a hook and ladder play with seconds remaining. After the Sooners scored in overtime, Boise countered with a touchdown and then won the game with a two-point conversion on another circus play — the Statue of Liberty.
2007, Trinity 28, Millsaps 24
You have to see this play to believe it. In a Division III showdown in Mississippi, Trinity used 15 laterals to score on a 61-yard kick return touchdown as time expired. The longest play in college football history took 62 seconds to complete,
2002, LSU 33, Kentucky 30
After Kentucky players gave head coach Guy Morriss a Gatorade shower, LSU scored on a 74-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Marcus Randall to wide receiver Devery Henderson on the final play of the game.
1994, Colorado 27, Michigan 26
Kordell Stewart’s 64-yard touchdown pass to Michael Westbrook as time expired stunned a huge Michigan crowd at the Big House in Ann Arbor. Stewart’s pass traveled nearly 80 yards in the air.
2005, USC 34, Notre Dame 31
Trailing 31-28 with just seven seconds left to play, USC went for the win instead of kicking a tying field goal. Trojans quarterback Matt Leinart scored the winning touchdown on a keeper, helped by a shove from behind by running back Reggie Bush.
1980, BYU 46, SMU 45
BYU overcame a 20-point deficit in the final three minutes and scored three touchdowns, sparked by Jim McMahon’s 41-yard pass to Clay Brown at the gun, to stun SMU
1968, Harvard 29, Yale 29
The Harvard Crimson headline said it all. Harvard scored 16 points in the final 42 seconds — including a touchdown and two point conversion after time expired — to tie rival Yale. The teams shared the Ivy League title at 8-0-1.